Speaking From the Show Floor – tips for interviewing at events 

Events are finally back. After years of virtual events and remote gatherings, the opportunities for in-person networking and media interviews at major conferences are on the rise. While this is great news, especially for those tired of being interviewed by journalists from behind a computer screen, interviewing at live events can pose challenges. Here are three tips for making sure you are interviewing at your best while at events: 

  1. Preparation remains key 

The most valuable tip is likely the most predictable – but no less important – is preparation. More unknowns surround in-person interviews at industry events than with virtual interviews popularized during the pandemic. Interview locations and times may change, big news could break, and even the reporter with whom you are to speak could change at the last minute. While it is impossible to be prepared for every outcome, a solid set of talking points and a few practice runs with a colleague before the cameras are on will help you interview your best. 

  • Appearances matter 

The return to in-person interviews means extra attention needs to be paid to not only looking presentable, but to looking good for an interview. This means keeping the medium in mind. If you are going to be on camera, avoid large flashy or distracting jewelry, green clothing that could confuse green screen editing and tight plaid patterns. If you are being recorded for a podcast, then clothing that clicks or jingles should also be avoided, as the audio editors will already be working to reduce the background noise of the event. 

  • Remain flexible 

All interviews should be scheduled in advance of the conference if possible, and most of the time, this will be enough to ensure a smooth interview process. However, plans change, flights are missed, locations move and any of a dozen other things can happen to disrupt an otherwise well-planned interview. With more logistical issues involved, changes like these are more likely at an in-person event. As a result, it is important to stay in contact with the journalists involved before and immediately preceding the interview. Also, consider carrying a portable battery and charging cable, just in case you need to quickly coordinate a change of plans on a low phone battery. 

Of course, in addition to the tips above, what many interviewees find invaluable in coordinating and conducting interviews at conferences is a good public relations agency as a partner. A good PR team can coordinate everything ahead of time, assist in navigating the process, prepare talking points, provide media training, assist with the in-person logistics and any last-minute chances and, of course, quickly step in if anything should go wrong.

The return to in-person events means a return to event interviews. These can often be some of the most impactful pieces of media produced each year for your organization. By remaining prepared, flexible and knowledgeable of the challenges of in-person interviews, you will put yourself in the best possible position for successful, positive coverage. 


Stepping Up for Charity

Throughout the year, Kimball Hughes Public Relations participates in a number of philanthropic endeavors alongside our partners and clients in an effort to give back to local communities and those in need. We enjoy supporting all the good our clients do in whatever ways we can, but when we can also get them comprehensive, quality news coverage on their charitable endeavors – that is a sincere thrill.

We did just that earlier this month when Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Company (PLM) held a head-shaving event fundraiser during their National Meeting benefiting the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting childhood cancer research. We secured the attendance of three Philadelphia network-affiliate television news crews to show their audience 17 members of PLM’s team, including CEO John Smith and Assistant Vice President of Marketing Lindsey DiGangi, shaving their heads after raising more than $150,000 for the important cause. Agency Vice President Eileen Coyne and PR Manager Hari Rajagopalan were in attendance at the event, enjoying live string band music from the famous Philadelphia Mummers. Kimball Hughes PR was honored to make a monetary contribution to PLM’s fundraiser as well. Well done, PLM. We’re proud to work with you. To learn more about the St Baldrick’s Foundation and their mission, please visit https://www.stbaldricks.org/

Our team at Kimball Hughes PR is also getting our collective steps in for charity by participating in the fourth annual Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) Step Up Challenge. From April 24 to May 21, 2023, the team at Kimball Hughes PR, alongside thousands of insurance professionals, their friends and families will participate in a four-week exercise competition to raise funds for children and communities in need across the US and UK. This will be our team’s third year participating and we’re looking forward to some friendly competition benefiting local nonprofits. Last year, agency President Rod Hughes took home the gold among our team with a whopping 331,329 steps. This year, it’s anyone’s game.

Both teams and individuals are welcome to participate in the challenge. A total of four IICF winners, the top two from the team and individual categories, will be able to allocate a grant to a nonprofit of their choice. To learn more about and sign up for the fourth annual IICF International Step Up Challenge, visit their website, https://stepup.iicf.org/

Earth Month: Communicating on Your Brand’s Social and Environmental Positions

To mark the 53rd annual Earth Day, we are looking at and sharing trends and best practices in communications related to corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives or stances. As we all know, ESG has become a buzzword with investors, customers and employees all taking a new interest in the environmental and social impacts of the brands with which they invest, shop or work.

Although leadership may recognize the environmental, social and business value of such initiatives, they might not understand the value of sharing relevant and timely messaging related to their progress. However, how a company communicates or doesn’t share its ESG initiatives or strategies plays a key role in the success of those initiatives, as well as in enhancing or diminishing the reputation of the company.

Starting with the basics, ESG initiatives are those that address corporate responsibility goals including those that impact:

  • The Environment: Initiatives aim to improve climate, reduce waste and carbon footprint.
  • Social issues: Initiatives strive to secure or improve human rights, enhance health and safety, diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Governance: Initiatives aim to ensure ethical action, transparent reporting and board diversity, as well as fair compensation.

The Value in Communicating

Today, investors, customers, employees, regulators and others want to know how company leadership are managing the company’s resources, how they are working to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, how the company contributes to keeping the global supply chain intact, as well as how company initiatives support employee culture, mental health, wellness and professional growth. They want to know that leadership has examined the company’s environmental and social impacts and are moving forward with initiatives to lessen the company’s negative impact and enhance its positive impact.

Research demonstrates that if leadership can commit to ESG efforts, their teams will be happier, more productive and well-positioned to fuel innovation and the company’s future success. In fact, in a recent survey from the Society for Human Resource Management, 75% of respondents said ESG initiatives have a positive impact on employee engagement. Further, for companies with ESG strategies in place, 60% of respondents said the initiatives had a positive impact on retention and 64% saw a positive impact on recruitment. Finally, 86% of those working for companies with ESG strategies said those goals give them a sense of pride in working for their employer and translate to a more meaningful work experience.  

We know ESG has value and that many in leadership view it as a business imperative. However, ensuring the success of ESG initiatives requires a communications plan to accompany any ESG endeavor. A well-considered communication plan to help raise awareness around a company’s ESG goals, initiatives and progress will help the company convey its values.

Tips for Communicating ESG Initiatives and Progress

A public relations campaign will raise awareness around actions of your company toward social responsibility. But what is the best way to communicate ESG initiatives, particularly when society is taking a critical eye to ESG messaging, looking for evidence of greenwashing or corporate claims that can’t be substantiated?

Consider these best practices:

  • Establish a Quantifiable ESG Strategy: Understand what your company can do to make a positive impact on society or the environment in a quantifiable way. Set quantifiable goals, track results, demonstrate commitment from the top and report progress. Provide data to verify your results and avoid the appearance of greenwashing.
  • Find the Human Side: Where possible, pair this information with human impact stories. Demonstrate how the actions of your company made a difference.
  • Include Many Voices: Management cannot dictate ESG. Incorporating the voices and perspectives of a broad cross-section of the business who are committed to and aligned with the organization’s ESG goals and progress is key. This not only maintains accountability but also provides a range of voices and platforms to tell the organization’s ESG stories.
  • Shout it from the Rooftops – Artfully and Strategically: Explore and use a variety of public relations tactics from press releases to thought leadership and social media to find the best way to connect what your company is doing with your audience. Connect with PR experts who know the space and can demonstrate a record of proven results.
  • Be Consistent: Once you commit to an ESG strategy, it must remain as sacrosanct as the organization’s mission. This includes how you communicate around ESG. That consistency reassures a sometimes-skeptical audience that your organization is serious, committed and transparent in all its ESG undertakings.

Leaders who want to get ahead are employing or exploring ESG initiatives. That’s smart, but investors, customers, employees and more will lose confidence in their abilities to hold true to their commitments absent news on their progress. A good communication plan must be part of the process to ensure momentum that will allow the company to make a real impact, inspire others and change the future for the better.